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Design of a Reconfigurable SMA-Based Solar Array Deployment Mechanism

[+] Author Affiliations
Robert Wheeler, Robert Saunders, Kelli Pickett, Cullen Eckert, Hannah Stroud, Tyler Fink, Kanika Gakhar, James Boyd, Dimitris Lagoudas

Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Paper No. SMASIS2015-9040, pp. V001T02A010; 8 pages
  • ASME 2015 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems
  • Volume 1: Development and Characterization of Multifunctional Materials; Mechanics and Behavior of Active Materials; Modeling, Simulation and Control of Adaptive Systems
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, September 21–23, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Aerospace Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5729-8
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


Shape memory alloys (SMAs), are a class of metals that possess the capability to recover substantial deformations resulting from applied mechanical loads through a solid-solid phase transformation. Typical deployment systems for solar arrays on microsats only allow for one-way deployment. However, by using an SMA actuator in place of a conventional deployment system, repeatable deployment and retraction can be achieved. Relative to conventional actuators, SMA-based solid state actuators offer a reduction in the weight, volume, and overall complexity of the system. In this study, a design of an SMA-based solar panel deployment mechanism for a typical microsat is presented. In this design, a conventional actuation system is replaced with a system of SMA torsional actuators, which allows for a deployed and stowed phase to be reached independent of environmental conditions. This design study illustrates that an SMA-based solar array deployment system can provide a viable replacement for a conventional deployment system while significantly reducing the deployment system weight, volume, and complexity.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME



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